Atlas Shrugged Indeed

A friend of mine sent me this article today by Stephen Moore at the Wall Street Journal wherein he lays out the irrefutable realty that Ayn Rand's classic story Atlas Shrugged has indeed gone from fact to fiction in 52 years.  It is the story of how the industrialists of the world one by one vanish leaving behind everything and leaving the complaining incompetent to inherit the world and see what life is really like when only the government remains hopelessly tweaking things and turning imaginary knobs trying to appear as if they know what their doing.  Sound familiar?  Atlas Shrugged was originally called "The Strike" which while not as sexy of a name, was also poignant because in Ayn Rand's version of a strike it's not the workers who go on strike as is typical but rather it's the industrialists and employers that go on strike.  Think about it.  When the government leaders are desperate for the private individualists to come back and are willing to do anything, the only request of them was to simply get out of the way.  Leave it to a Russian women from the 1950's to have the insights to know where socialism ultimately winds up.  Go pick up a copy of the book.  You will never forget it.

Ayn Rand
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3 thoughts on “Atlas Shrugged Indeed

  1. Hey, Tony:
    Very interesting. I have read Rand and have taken away some valid lessons from her but I am not so sure that unfettered capitalism is the answer, either – do you think industry would simply self-regulate when it comes to environmental protection, workers’ rights and such? You are assuming here that all capitalists are good and benevolent – quite an assumption!

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  2. Hi Marc,
    Well the article is about how a seemingly fantastical situation (Rand’s use of fiction to drive home a philosophical point) has come true. When I first read Atlas Shrugged in I think 1991 I remember looking around at the time and seeing what she was talking about in the news everyday. What was amazing to me is that this was a Russian woman who grew up under heavy communism/socialism and saw first-hand the results (or non-results as it were) and how it crushes the human spirit frankly. Here is what I think (to get to you point….) Of course not all capitalists are wonderful and some will make bad choices, but those who want to make something and thrive have to respond to the market’s wishes and if the market’s wishes are environmental concerns or workers rights etc… then smart capitalists will positively address that and those that do not will not have an audience. What bothers me is that sinking feeling that we have a large group of people both in Washington and in the population that think that Government is the answer. You can’t obligate productive people to do things and expect them to be happy about it or not to resist. I think the answer for a lot of what we see happening today is to let people and companies fail. It’s not pretty but through all these bailouts I think we are digging ourselves a hole and frankly only postponing the problem for another day. The other thing bugging me about what we see happening is that good people who “followed the rules” let’s say are being asked to fund this while people who repeatedly make poor decisions are in line for a bailout. Smells bad. In any event, I think Ayn Rand lays out a great case for what results we should expect if you allow the government to handle to much. The article points to a great scene in the book wherein the productive people have all disappeared (leaving behind everything no less) for the rest of the world to figure out. The government representatives come to the point where they beg the individuals who actual know how to produce things to “come back” and make things right and say “we’ll do anything you ask”. The protaganist’s (John Galt” response is ‘you’ll do anything I say? Get out of the way”. My point is just that – we need government to get out of the way most of the time and the leaders we have (on all sides) simply cannot bring themselves to stop turning knobs and pushing buttons that do not need to be manipulated. Let the market resolve itself on it’s own.

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  3. I understand your point of view entirely. Our experiences are quite different, but I am more a believer in balance than one having dominion over the other. I am all for small businesses (I work for a company with 18 employees) but I also think a bit of antitrust legislation is not a bad thing when businesses cannibalize one another and become these gigantic ecosystems with no accountability and a system of governance that does not take into account the welfare of the “outside world,” their employees, or even their own best interests which become cloudy once you reach a certain size.
    You sound like the dream boss to me. I am sure your company is a great place to work. I hope you weather these storms ok. if not, let me know when you’re kicking back in Italia – I’d love to raise a glass of Campari sometime!

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